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After 1,400 Pages, I Finally Laughed


Maybe, just maybe, I’ve reached a turning point in what, to this point, has been the most tedious literary experience of my life.

The Valley of the Bones, Book 7 of The Dance To The Music Of Time (read my prior posts about each book in the series), was actually not a bad book. In fact, it was somewhat good. I even laughed! Can you believe it?

Throughout my self-declared “Year of the Dance,” I’ve hammered this novel. But, finally, some light.

To this point, this novel has been like eating tofu for six straight nights and being treated to roasted chicken on the 7th night. Even if the chicken is dry and underseasoned, it’s much better than tofu. What a horrible analogy.

Anyway, The Valley of the Bones takes place during the beginning of World War 2. All of our central characters—Jenkins, Widmerpool, and the rest—have been recruited and have taken roles in the British army.

The massive estates that once hosted parties in which boring people stood around and talked about boring subjects have now been turned into temporary army bases and hospitals.

I’ve heard a lot about the humor in The Dance. But, up until this point, I haven’t experienced much of it. Or maybe I just haven’t got it. Book 7, though, was a winner in the humor department.

Powell’s writing reminded me of Richard Heller’s style in Catch 22. It’s dry humor, satire. He reveals some of the practical aspects of life in the army during wartime in a funny way. That takes talent.

So onward I forge. I believe it was Teresa—a commenter on the blog—who told me the series gets better during the war trilogy (books 7-9). That was definitely the case with book 7. As I’m approaching the two-thirds mark in the series, I can see a small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Will this positive trend continue? Or will I begin to poke out my eyes in boredom yet again?

Tune in next month when I review book 8, The Soldier’s Art, to find out.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Teresa #

    Yes,it was me who said that the war years were better. Glad you are eating roast chicken now – albeit dry roast chicken. LOL. Loved your analogy. I can’t wait to see what you think of books 10-12. Our tastes are quite different. I didn’t care for them – but you may. Maybe it will be steak dinner for you.


    July 31, 2012
  2. Alpa #

    Well , I was slightly confused about your like or dislike of this book. But end of it sounded all heads up , I hope the next book works for you 🙂


    July 31, 2012
  3. I suspect a Rowan Atkinson interpretation of the term “Comedy.” When Dante Alighieri wrote Commedia, he wasn’t trying to get his readers to laugh out loud and roll on the floor; when Balzac wrote La Comédie humaine, he was pointing out the grand comedy of life, much as Powers does in A Dance to the Music of Time.

    You might think of comedy in terms of the Shakespeare quotation: “… what fools these mortals be.” (And yes, I chuckled throughout the movie and occasional stagings of A Midsummer-Night’s Dream).

    In its widest interpretation, comedy is literature (or other art) which involves mortal man and doesn’t rely on the gods. The reader is not expected to laugh but this doesn’t mean that the author doesn’t toss in a joke or funny passage once in a while (even Dante had some fun and games in his work, especially Inferno).


    July 31, 2012
  4. bba #

    You need to eat better prepared tofu.


    July 31, 2012
  5. Loved the tofu/dry chicken analogy…explains your experience perfectly. Good luck with book 7!


    August 2, 2012
  6. Ha!


    July 31, 2015

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